Ahoskie, Cashie garner hardware at AIT

Published 12:08 pm Tuesday, July 7, 2009

AHOSKIE – The first annual Ahoskie Invitational Tournament (AIT), held at Hertford County High School was a success as Ahoskie played host to 14 different All-Star teams from seven locations.

Among those in attendance were All-Stars from Ahoskie, Cashie, Chocowinity, Edenton, Gates, Northampton and Perquimans. The tournament saw action from three different age groups: 7-8 year old Coach-Pitch League, 9-10 year old Midget League, and 11-12 year old Little League.

Cashie took home the hardware for the Coach-Pitch and Midget divisions while Ahoskie won the Little League championship.

Cashie’s Coach-Pitch team under Head Coach Richard Ball enjoyed lopsided victories in each of its contests enroute to a 3-0 tournament record and first place finish.

Meanwhile, Cashie’s Midget League team fell to Ahoskie in its first game of the tournament, forcing them to fight there way out of the loser’s bracket.

After upending Gates County and Chocowinity, Cashie faced Ahoskie again in the finals, needing to win back-to-back for first place. The bats heated up for the 9-10 year olds from Windsor as they went on to beat Ahoskie twice and winning the first place trophy with a 4-1 record.

In the Little League 11-12 year old division, Ahoskie faced Perquimans’ B-team after drawing a first round bye. The first at-bat of the game would set the tone for Ahoskie as Tyler Hoggard stepped up to the plate with a lead-off homerun.

The bats stayed hot for Ahoskie as they went on to homer twice more in the contest, by Ryan Weaver and Eric Ortiz respectively. Bryan Merritt pitched the team to a shutout victory in four innings, 11-0.

Game two for Ahoskie would not be so easy as they faced a very tough Perquimans A-team in the Winner’s bracket final. Hoggard once again started the game with a lead-off homer.

Pitching for the Ahoskie team, Hoggard proved his versatility on the mound. After losing the lead in the fifth inning, Ahoskie battled back in the bottom thanks to a three-run shot by Tyler Jones to take a one-run lead.

Perquimans went on to score once more in the top of the sixth to tie the ball game. Needing one run to score, Ortiz hit a sacrifice fly to dead center with runners on second and third as Tyler Hoggard scored the winning run, giving Ahoskie a 6-5 victory and a slot in the championship game.

Ahoskie’s third game did not fare as well for the home town favorites.

The team faced the same Perquimans crowd from game two, needing to beat them only once out of two games to win the championship. Ahoskie went into the bottom of the last inning up six runs until the Perquimans bats heated up. The crew scored seven runs in the bottom of the sixth to win the game 13-12 and force a final do-or-die championship game.

The play of the game went to Perquimans center fielder Justin Trueblood who robbed Hoggard of yet another homerun with an extraordinary catch at the fence. Trueblood sustained an injury during the catch, but with the motivation of a fallen teammate, the Perquimans team surged to win the contest and force an elimination game.

In the championship game, Ahoskie and Perquimans squared off one last time.

This time, the Ahoskie bats stayed hot, but the pitching was even hotter. Youngster Jarrett Harrell pitched five innings of shutout baseball before giving up two runs in the sixth inning. That would turn out to be enough as the Ahoskie team took home a 7-2 victory and a championship in the first ever Ahoskie Invitational Tournament behind Harrell’s nine-strikeout performance.

The team was lead in hitting during the tournament by Eric Ortiz (9-for-12, three HR), Tyler Jones (8-for-12, 2 HR), Tyler Hoggard (9-for-14, 4 HR), and Brandon Terry (7-for-14, 1 HR, 2 doubles).

The team’s next appearance will be July 7 in Williamston as they face Chocowinity in the opening round of the District 7 Tar Heel League tournament. For more information about the Ahoskie team or to purchase the same apparel as the players, visit ahoskieallstars.blogspot.com.